AN aggressive social media campaign has been launched in a bid to destroy a new book on the Madeleine McCann mystery and the German prime suspect in her disappearance.
The so-called ‘trolling’ of the well-researched book by Olive Press editor Jon Clarke is causing considerable commercial damage.
Spearheaded out of the UK and Spain by a retired British police detective and a former military policeman, the group have long claimed that the McCanns killed their own daughter, while on holiday in Portugal in 2007.
In the alarming attack the group has even set up a specific Facebook page to target the author and his book My Search for Madeleine.
A series of tweets describe the author as both ‘disgraced’ and ‘a liar’. The group has also claimed that Clarke is on the payroll of the McCann family and may have even been working for MI5 and the British secret services.
It comes despite veteran crime journalist Martin Brunt of Sky News insisting it was ‘tirelessly researched’ and told him ‘a lot’ of new things about the case.
Renowned TV investigator Donal Macintyre added the book ‘broke new ground on the case’ particularly over the sordid and chaotic life of new suspect Christian Brueckner.
But their opinions have been overshadowed by an avalanche of one-star reviews posted on Amazon, where the book is being sold.
The pernicious reviews came within days of release and were coordinated in an online forum.
Nearly a dozen so-called ‘reviewers’ have given the book just one star. Yet most have not even bought it, yet alone read it.
“It is a total disgrace that these ‘reviewers’ slam the book without even reading it,” said Clarke, 52, who spent 14 months researching the book, travelling between Spain and Portugal over half a dozen times and also to Germany.
“They criticise it entirely due to their own agenda against the McCanns, who they think killed their daughter,” he added.
The British journalist, who has covered the case since May 2007 for a string of national newspapers, including the Mail, the Sunday Mirror and the Times, added: “I just feel so sorry for Gerry and Kate McCann who have had to put up with so many years of abuse and torments like this.”
The owner of the Olive Press newspaper group, based in Malaga, dedicated a chapter of the 130,000 word book to the online attacks of the McCanns and those that support them.
“But I didn’t feel the book deserved any more as most of these people just like the limelight and to have their controversial views aired,” he explained.
In clear proof of their agenda, most reviews on Amazon simply refer to personal beliefs about the McCanns’ whose daughter was snatched on May 3, 2007, while on holiday in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve.
One, Colin Linskey, writes: “The McCanns didn’t do reconstruction, Kate didn’t answer questions and they fled home hours later.”
Linskey is a frequent commentator and puts up posts on the Facebook site ‘Abscam, Madeleine McCann abduction or scam?’
And typically of most trolls of the McCanns online he leaves no personal information at all.
Some of them, such as Tony Bennett, a former lawyer and UKIP supporter, have already been prosecuted in the UK and frequently warned online.
Others, such as Jill Havern – who reviewed My Search for Madeleine under the initials ‘JH’, saying there was ‘nothing of any value in the book’ – is a former military policeman at RAF Alconbury.
Described as a ‘veteran campaigner’ by the anti-McCann Portugal Resident newspaper, she has long supported the first inspector in the case, Goncalo Amaral, who was removed, after a series of errors.
She has even set up a foundation dedicated to proving that the McCanns killed Maddie and covered it up with the help of their group of friends known as the Tapas 7.
One of the most aggressive trolls is Peter MacLeod, a former deputy chief superintendent of Nottinghamshire police, who has led a long and bitter campaign against the McCanns and Clarke.
He appears in Clarke’s book, which exposes his popular e-book pamphlet, that claims there are dozens of reasons why Maddie wasn’t snatched by a paedophile and pointing the finger at Kate and Gerry, from his home, near Nerja, in Spain.
Posting his review under the initials ‘PM’ he dubs My Search for Madeleine ‘a very strange book’ and criticises it for being two thirds about the new German prime suspect Christian Brueckner.
“He is very much what the book is about and I have spent the last year trying to understand why German police are so sure that he killed Madeleine,” Clarke said.
“Whatever these trolls claim and whatever damage they do, I travelled numerous times to Portugal and Germany to meet Brueckner’s friends and acquaintances, not to mention police and prosecutors,” he added.
My Search for Madeleine, by Jon Clarke, can be bought on all Amazon platforms in both digital and print formats.